Forty-eight hours after the passage of Cyclone Belal, which hit Réunion hard until the red alert was lifted, the consequences seemed less than feared, Wednesday January 17, on the island in the Indian Ocean, where begins the damage inventory. The cyclone, which did not reach the feared intense tropical cyclone stage, nevertheless led to the death of three homeless people.

On Monday, a first lifeless body was found in Saint-Gilles, in the West, during the first hours of the cyclone’s passage, then two others on Tuesday, including one in a sheet metal hut in Tampon (South).

These last two people “would have refused emergency accommodation”, declared the Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, Gérald Darmanin, who planned in particular to go to a farm in the town on Wednesday during ‘a visit to the island.

Reconnaissance missions

Crossing the coastal road, one of the main roads from the island of Saint-Denis to Saint-Pierre (West), far from a landscape of desolation, there are only a few traces of the cyclone still visible: leaves and branches, pushed onto the side of the road. Arriving at a barracks in Saint-Pierre with thirty-five agents, Lieutenant Raphaël Ageneau confirms that “it is rather the vegetation which was affected by the violent winds”, pointing to a palm tree laid down by the wind in the courtyard of Barracks.

He is part of a detachment of some 140 civil security agents, firefighters, gendarmes, as well as agents of the manager Enedis, who arrived late Tuesday afternoon from Brignoles (Var) and Mayotte to lend helping local emergency services. Reconnaissance missions were launched on Wednesday morning, “because everything has not yet been done in depth”, and certain homes could still be cut off from the main roads, explains Mr. Ageneau.

“42% of residents no longer have Internet, 40% of relay antennas are out of service, 32% of homes have no electricity, 17% have complicated or impossible access to water, and 7% do not have access to water. receive more TNT and radio,” the prefect listed Tuesday during a press briefing.

From Paris, Gérald Darmanin “welcomed the State services in conjunction with local authorities” which made it possible to “save many lives”. The last “intense” cyclone to hit Reunion – a stage that Belal ultimately did not reach – was Bejisa, in the very early days of 2014.